Opinion divided on Morrison’s housing plan

Adam Smith 25 October 2016

house splitThe housing industry has welcomed a commitment from the federal government to tackle affordability issues.

In a speech yesterday to the Urban Development Institute of Australia, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison vowed that the government would take the states to task over regulations hindering land release. Morrison argued that housing was becoming increasingly unaffordable for young Australians, and said the federal government would work with the states and territories to help increase housing supply.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has praised the commitment, with HIA chief executive of industry policy and media Graham Wolfe highlighting the importance of the sector to the economy.

“Residential building activity provides employment for over one million Australians, supports 321,595 firms and produces $162 billion worth of economic activity each year – one-tenth of Australia’s total economic activity. The industry generates $77 billion in taxation annually, more than 17% of the total taxation receipts across all levels of government,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said the key to affordability was an increase in supply.

“Addressing our housing affordability challenges very much depends on new housing supply, and that requires federal leadership on policy direction, strategic planning and a national, whole-of-government approach to land availability, taxation, infrastructure and workforce capacity,” he said.

But Labor Treasurers in South Australia, Queensland and Victoria have argued that supply is only one of the issues that must be addressed, the Australian Financial Review reported. South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions must also be considered.

“If you want to have an honest discussion about housing affordability, you’ve got to put everything on the table, not just land availability,” he said.

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas called Morrison’s comments “a hollow speech” that failed to offer solutions, the AFR reported.

“When it comes to policy, the federal treasurer has proven once again that he’s an empty suit,” he said.

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